January 3, 2011, 1:37 PM

E-commerce stocks gain 36% in 2010

The Internet Retailer Online Retail Index advanced much faster than the stock market overall.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Lead Photo

Led by e-retailer Netflix, whose share price more than tripled in 2010, the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index of 25 publicly traded web retailers and e-commerce technology providers advanced 36.0% last year.

That was much stronger growth than the stock market as a whole registered for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 11.0% in 2010 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 12.8%.

Netflix shares soared during a year in which company executives emphasized the online retailer’s transition from a company that earns revenue primarily by mailing movie DVDs to consumers to one that increasingly makes money by streaming content to subscribers over the Internet.

Ironically, Netflix had the worst performance of the 25 Online Retail Index stocks last week, losing nearly 5% of its value as some investors bet against the stock last month, “shorting” it in market parlance, arguing that there were significant risks in the e-retailer’s new business model. That led Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to post a blog addressing investor concerns in detail Dec. 20. While Hastings conceded Netflix faced risks, he argued that “shorting a market-leading firm as it is driving a huge new market is a very gutsy call.”

Netflix wasn’t the only loser among e-commerce stocks last week. The Online Retail Index lost 0.77% for the week ended Friday, Dec. 31, while the market as a whole was flat, with the Dow gaining .03% and the S&P 500 .07%. Among the Online Retail Index stocks, Drugstore.com led the way last week, gaining nearly 3.3%.

While Netflix was the big winner in 2010 among e-commerce stocks, online retailer Vitacost.com suffered the biggest decline in its share price. The e-retailer of vitamins and supplements disclosed last month problems with the way it accounted for stock transactions, leading the NASDAQ exchange to halt trading in its stock.

Here is how the 25 stocks in the Online Retail Index performed in 2010, with the percentage gain or loss in share price for the year:

Netflix

218.93%

Akamai

85.67%

U.S. Auto Parts Network

61.54%

Keynote Systems

34.01%

Amazon

33.81%

ATG

32.59%

Digital River

27.53%

RealNetworks

13.21%

DemandTec

4.03%

VistaPrint

2.20%

American Greetings

1.70%

1800Flowers.com

1.51%

LivePerson

0.89%

PetMed Express

0.85%

Overstock

-0.30%

Shutterfly

-1.02%

eBay

-1.83%

United Online (owns FTD)

-8.21%

GSI

-8.51%

Blue Nile

-9.90%

Systemax

-10.25%

Drugstore.com

-28.48%

NutriSystem

-32.53%

Bidz.com

-39.36%

Vitacost

-45.30%

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